Wes Welker Clearly Out of Favor With Patriots, So What's Next for WR?

Brandon AlisogluCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2012

FOXBORO, PA - SEPTEMBER 16: Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots dives to the ground after catching a pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the game on September 16, 2012 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Boston doesn't know how to do it any other way. When a semi-iconic player such as Wes Welker reaches an impasse with management, the story unfolds publicly, sometimes in a messy manner.

Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra and Randy Moss are a few of the incredible names on the long list of former Boston stars. All great contributors during their time in the Northeast, all shipped out after drawn-out debacles.

Welker now finds himself in the same predicament with the New England Patriots. He never won a title with the Pats, but he has been the NFL's steadiest receiver over the last five years. Until now.

After a summer of contract negotiations that achieved nothing, Welker signed his one-year franchise tag and reported to camp. I wonder if he wishes he had just continued to work out on his own and waited for the inevitable: a hasty departure. 

Bill Belichick hasn't just limited his snaps, he secured him to the bench against the Arizona Cardinals until an injury to Aaron Hernandez forced his hand. So what happens now?


Welker is Traded

Out of all the possibilities, a trade seems most likely.

Moss was the greatest receiver the Pats had ever had, until he wasn't. In a story that hits close to home for Welker, he was upset with his lack of long-term security and wasn't shy about it. Eventually, the disgraced speedster was shipped off to the Minnesota Vikings, where he quickly arranged his own funeral.

Any deal will obviously need to involve a wide receiver-needy team. A few interesting possibilities include the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins or even the Minnesota Vikings again. Despite his age, Welker could garner a third-round pick and an extra late-rounder.


Injuries or Poor Production Force Belichick to Let Welker Play Out the Year

Welker was able to find his way onto the field due to an injury to Hernandez. However, the Pats re-signed Deion Branch in what appears to be a move to replace Welker. That doesn't mean it will work. 

Branch was let go before final cuts, so how much does he have left in the tank? Are Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots going to be complicit with benching Welker if Branch can't perform? If he doesn't measure up or gets hurt, Belichick will have no option but to allow Welker to play out the year and sign somewhere else after the season.


A Reconciliation Occurs

By far, the odds of the two sides coming together on a long-term contract seem the most remote out of all the scenarios.

Belichick isn't a man who lets his emotions determine how he does business. That's a sure way to end a career in professional football. You must be cold and calculating if you are going to enjoy the type of success the post-2000 Patriots have. 

We have to at least mention that maybe Welker will decide that the Patriot way is the only way for him. 

But I doubt it.

Where will Welker play in 2013? I don't know, but I'd be willing to wager that it isn't in New England.